MNCs in the News-2017-09-22

China

China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) promised China would take steps to improve the environment for inward foreign direct investment (FDI) including opening its financial and new energy vehicle sectors while the NDRC itself would work with ministries to ensure the environment was “more open, fair, and convenient.” The NDRC noted while China’s inward FDI (IFDI) declined a slight 0.2 percent over the first eight months of 2018 year-over-year (YOY) IFDI into its high-tech manufacturing and high-tech service industries was growing rapidly (“China to Further Open Financial, New Energy Vehicle Sectors to Foreign Investment,” Xinhuanet, September 15, 2017, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-09/15/c_136612396.htm)

At a recent energy conference, the head of China’s National Energy Administration stated “China welcomes foreign oil and gas companies to continue investing in the country” in areas like “oil and gas exploration, production capacity construction, oil and gas management and reserves, science and technology research and talent training.” This would fit with China’s efforts to reform its oil and gas industry to bolster efficiency and competitiveness. Chinese energy investment initiatives in some of its free trade zones have drawn foreign firm interest (Zheng Xin and Shi Xiaofeng, “Foreign Oil, Gas Firms’ Capital Welcome,” China Daily, September 19, 2017, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2017-09/19/content_32184359.htm)

The European Union (EU) Chamber of Commerce in China released a position paper on the attitudes of member businesses about China’s policies toward IFDI. The paper stressed a majority of members feel they are being treated unfairly, that China needs to do more in terms of creating a level playing field, and that China could enhance the opening of its agricultural, automotive, and food and beverage sectors. Members also were displeased with opportunities to set standards and utilize programs supporting research and development (Yang Ge, “EU Business Group Chides China for Slowness to Open Up,” Caixin, September 19, 2017, http://www.caixinglobal.com/2017-09-19/101147379.html)

Responding to EU President Jean-Claude Juncker’s proposal of a EU wide investment screening scheme, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) stated “‘we hope the EU will follow basic rules of the World Trade Organization, especially the nondiscriminatory principle, to avoid any interference created by the [sic] rising protectionism sentiment.’” A MOFA spokesman further opined “the EU should not send chaotic and negative signals to the rest of the world.” In 2016, a very large proportion of Chinese outward FDI (OFDI) went to EU countries (Hou Yongqi, “EU May Cut Back on Foreign Direct Investment,” China Daily, September 19, 2017, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/business/2017-09/19/content_32187991.htm)

Japan

Japanese NAND chipmaker Toshiba has finally selected a consortium to take over its USD $21 billion semiconductor business. The group is dominated by United States (US) private equity firm Bain Capital, but also includes American firms Apple, Dell, Kingston, and Seagate, South Korea’s SK Hynix Inc., and the state-owned Innovation Network Corp of Japan as well as the Development Bank of Japan. Toshiba’s previous partner, Western Digital, is still seeking negotiations (“Toshiba selects Bain-led group for chip unit sale, looks to get out of debt by next March,” The Japan Times, September 20, 2017, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/09/20/business/corporate-business...)

Japanese firms are becoming more hesitant about continued investment in Britain because Brexit’s progress has become protracted and uncertain. Japanese banks are prepared to move jobs to continental Europe to maintain current business licenses, but a recent Japan visit by Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May sought to reassure investors and lay the groundwork for a future free trade agreement. Lukewarm relations with China, angered by May postponing a trade trip to China in favor of Japan, have made Japanese investments more important (Duncan Bartlett, “British PM May Seeks to Reassure Japan Amid Brexit Worries,” Japan Forward, September 19, 2017, http://japan-forward.com/british-pm-may-seeks-to-reassure-japan-amid-bre...)

South Korea

Due to fears about losing core national technologies and the THAAD controversy, South Korea’s Industry Ministry is reviewing investment plans by South Korean semiconductor and display companies seeking expansion in China. The Ministry has targeted Samsung Electronics’ USD $7 billion NAND flash memory factory in Xi’an, LG Display’s plans for a OLED factory in Guangzhou, and SK Hynix’s DRAM plans in Wuxi for inspection. If the South Korean government determines essential technologies could be leaked through these plants, investments will be stopped (Michael Herh, “Korean Gov’t Puts Quick Brake to Domestic Companies’ Expansion in China,” BusinessKorea, September 19, 2017, http://www.businesskorea.co.kr/english/news/industry/19339-dissuading-in...)

Korea Electric Corp., South Korea’s state-owned utility company, is representing South Korea in a bid to build Saudi Arabia’s first nuclear energy plant. Although South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has vowed to reduce nuclear energy use in his country in favor of renewable energy sources, his government still remains committed to backing investment in foreign infrastructure ventures. At the International Atomic Energy Agency, Saudi Arabia unveiled its intention to build two nuclear reactors to reduce reliance on oil with project specifications forthcoming (“Korea eyes Saudi Arabia’s nuclear plant deal,” Korea Herald, September 19, 2017, http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20170919000927)

Indonesia

Indonesia’s demand for steel is expected to rise to 21.4 million tons within the decade, putting strains on domestic production. Indonesia, however, does not wish to satiate its needs with imports. Thus, the Indonesian Iron & Steel Industry Association has recommended the government improve investment conditions for steel producers and increase permit circulation. As one path to reduce reliance on imports, Indonesia’s state-owned Krakatau Steel and South Korea’s Posco Group are discussing a new USD $450 million plant for the country (“Investment in Indonesia: Great Opportunities for Steel Producers,” Indonesia Investments, September 16, 2017, https://www.indonesia-investments.com/news/todays-headlines/investment-i...)

According to the “Indonesia Venture Capital Outlook 2017,” foreign investment in Indonesian startups is rapidly increasing, reaching USD $3 billion this year versus a total of USD $1.4 billion in 2016. In 2016, Chinese investment in Indonesia was miniscule, but in 2017 it has accounted for around 94 percent of total investments to date. It largely has concentrated on e-commerce and transportation as Indonesian government directives to expand its middle class and grow the country’s economy have come into effect (Yunnie Marzuki, “Indonesian startup investment hits USD $3bil in 2017: Google – AT Kearney,” Digital News Asia, September 20, 2017, https://www.digitalnewsasia.com/digital-economy/indonesian-startup-inves...)

Thailand

A new digital park in Thailand was recently proposed, marking a major step in the country’s digital aspirations. An international consortium designed the plan and the new district will be developed over the next decade. The plan fits within the so-called Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) and provides new opportunities for foreign investors. The development of the new area supports the Thailand 4.0 initiative as well as Thailand's Digital Government Plan for 2017-21. This plan details the Thai government's desire “to develop digital capabilities across sectors” (“Digital Park plan for Chon Buri tech community unveiled,” Bangkok Post, September 22, 2017, http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/telecom/1328779/digital-park-plan-fo...)

“Pattaya marina hosts boat show to promote EEC,” Bangkok Post, September 22, 2017, http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/tourism-and-transport/1328855/pattay...

Vietnam

Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation started construction on its third industrial park in Vietnam’s northern province of Vinh Phuc. Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister called on provincial government agencies to assist Sumitomo in creating better business relations with Japanese firms in order to attract further investment. The Vietnamese government hopes that the industrial park will attract green industries, advanced technologies, and specialty automotive projects through its cutting-edge infrastructure. The construction project is expected to create thousands of jobs for locals and attract more than 70 Japanese businesses once complete (“Sumitomo begins building Thang Long Industrial Park III,” Vietnam News, September 22, 2017, http://bizhub.vn/news/sumitomo-begins-building-thang-long-industrial-par...)

South Korea’s Hanwha Techwin Co., Ltd, an aerospace manufacturing company, will open the first of three production plants in Vietnam early next year. The three plants represent a USD $200 million investment by the South Korean firm and will create over a thousand jobs for local Vietnamese workers. Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology has since ordered local management boards to create the needed infrastructure and policies to support Hanwha’s investment. Vietnam’s government anticipates that Hanwha’s successful investment will attract more foreign investors to the region (“Work begins on Vietnam’s first aircraft engine parts factory,” Vietnamnet, September 22, 2017, http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/business/186961/work-begins-on-vietnam-...)

*The information compiled in the MNCs in the News digest is gathered from sources believed to be reliable, but the Wong MNC Center does not guarantee their accuracy. The content of the MNCs in the News digest does not necessarily represent the view of the Wong MNC Center, its Board of Directors, or its Advisory Board, but is intended for the non-commercial use of readers in order to foster debate and discussion and to facilitate and stimulate research.